State Lawmaker Says Common Core Contributed To Children’s Deaths

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South Dakota's state capitol building

On Tuesday, South Dakota state Rep. Elizabeth May (R) claimed the Common Core State Standards were partly responsible for the death of eight children on a South Dakota Native American reservation. (Her remarks start at 21:10.)

May’s comments were made on the House floor before a vote to consider a bill to repeal the standards in South Dakota. She said, “We’ve buried eight kids down on that reservation in the last week. We need to sit up and pay attention. I’m not naive enough to think the Common Core is the… is what’s causing all of this, but it’s part of the effect. We’ve got teachers down there who have just quit teaching it.”

May did not make clear how the Common Core contributed to the death of these eight students, but her comments adds to the a series of confusing statements from Republicans on this issue, including assertions that the Common Core will turn students gay, the standards contain anti-American propaganda history, and they were informed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

May and the bill’s cosponsor, state Rep. Dan Kaiser (R), supported a procedural tool to force the repeal bill onto the floor even though similar legislation had been defeated in the House Education Committee the day before. But the move ultimately failed.

Common Core opponents have suffered recent defeats elsewhere as well. The Arizona Senate rejected a similar bill earlier in the week and measures in Mississippi and North Dakota to repeal the standards also failed.

Successful repeals come with their own problems. Repealing the standards could cost Tennessee $4.14 million over three years to develop its own and it could cost Louisiana over $25 million. Indiana, which has already repealed the standards, could have to spend $125 million. So far, bills to repeal the Common Core standards have also been passed in Oklahoma and South Carolina.

The Common Core State Standards outline a set of foundational skills in math and English that students should master at the end of each school year to ensure high school graduates are ready for college and the workforce. Forty states and the District of Columbia are continuing to move forward with implementation and enjoy bipartisan support from governors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, teachers unions, civil rights groups, and military leaders.

Will Ragland is the Campaign Director of Education Policy at the Center for American Progress.